Baby Reindeer parents guide: The Netflix stalking comedy-drama is not for babies

Richard Gadd's based-on-a-true-story series is a harrowing account of stalking and assault.
Baby Reindeer. Ed Miller/Netflix.
Baby Reindeer. Ed Miller/Netflix. /

Baby Reindeer is now streaming on Netflix and climbing its way up the Top 10 charts. Created by and starring comedian Richard Gadd, the true story follows how he was dangerously stalked by an obsessed woman over a number of years, and how it destroyed his life. Also it’s funny sometimes? But if you see “baby” and think Boss Baby… Well, think again. This is no Bambi sequel, this is serious stuff.

Based on both true experiences and Gadd’s award-winning play of the same name, Baby Reindeer opens with Gadd playing Donny, a down-on-his-luck comedian working at a pub. Enter Martha (Jessica Gunning), who enters the pub upset and claims to not have any money. Out of empathy, Donny gives her a cup of tea on the house. What follows is a twisted tale that becomes more horrific as it goes – mainly because it is based in part of Gadd’s real-life experience with a stalker.

By the way, “Baby Reindeer” is the nickname Martha calls Donny, for reasons that won’t become apparent until you watch through all seven half-hour episodes.

So with that in mind, you can probably already tell this series is probably not for the little kids. But how mature is the TV-MA rated series?

Baby Reindeer Parents Guide: Explaining The TV-MA Age Rating

Baby Reindeer
Baby Reindeer. Ed Miller/Netflix. /

Baby Reindeer is rated TV-MA by Netflix for “language, nudity, sex, sexual violence, substances.” And we’ll get this out of the way: this absolutely deserves the rating.

Sex & Nudity: Yes and yes. I’m going to put a trigger warning here, because one of the biggest facets of the show that doesn’t become apparent until later in the run, though is probably known to those who follow Gadd: Donny is a victim of male rape. Gadd also has been open about his experiences and started an organization called We Are Survivors. The scenes depicting this are, of course, extremely upsetting and hard to watch.

Beyond that, though, there is non-stop sexual language, references to sex, and multiple instances of nudity. There’s nothing full-frontal, but you do see exposed breasts throughout the show particularly during a sex montage (and in several other sex scenes), as well as Donny’s exposed butt during a shower scene. There’s also a fantasy scene between Donny and Martha with clothes-on sex, several masturbation scenes, and several other scenes where sex is attempted.

Violence: There are a few shocking instances of violence, including once when Donny gets hit in the head with a glass mug, and a harrowing fight where Martha attacks Donna’s girlfriend Teri (Nava Mau), ripping out chunks of her hair. Martha also makes numerous references to inflicting violence through her various phone calls, texts, and emails.

Language: Yes, it’s pervasive and non-stop. Martha sends Donny hundreds of messages, and most of them – while poorly spelled – are graphic and crude. Pretty much every sexual act you can imagine is described, and there is constant cursing and shouting from multiple characters.

Drinking & Drugs: Donny works in a pub, so plenty of drinking there. But beyond that, as revealed later in the season he was run through the gamut of drugs from MDMA to acid, heroin, and crack by his abuser. So, lots of drugs. Tons of them.

Overall Verdict: What Age Is Baby Reindeer Appropriate For?

This show is a clear TV-MA, 17 and up. Normally I feel like you can be a little waffle-y with the age range for more mature teens, but despite the frequent moments of levity throughout, this is extremely upsetting and intense subject matter.

While I think it’s important to talk about all of the subjects presented in the series, which is at least part of the point, this is not appropriate for teens. Put on Boss Baby or Bambi instead, please.

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